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Three Rockies minor league questions we want answered in 2023: part 5

Colorado Rockies news and links for Monday, February 20, 2023

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In the first installment of the series, we dug into three prominent storylines for Colorado Rockies prospects in the upcoming season. The health and production of Peter Lambert and Ryan Rolison, the durability of Jaden Hill and progression of Brenton Doyle and Benny Montgomery in center field are prominent narratives this season, but not the only ones.

The next three questions we asked pertained to how feasible it may be for top prospect Zac Veen to reach the major league level this season and if catcher Drew Romo and recent first round selection Gabriel Hughes can put themselves on the fast-track this season. In part three, we dove into Karl Kauffmann’s control, Grant Lavigne tapping into his power and the health of Helcris Olivarez. Part four investigated Jordy Vargas stepping up his innings, Ryan Ritter exceeding expectations with the bat and Riley Pint’s long journey finally reaching its destination.

To reach an aesthetically-pleasing 15 storylines, let’s give it one more go and jump into three more questions pertaining to Colorado’s farm system we’re asking this season:

Can Dyan Jorge become the next full-season breakout?

A significant trend has developed in recent seasons for the Rockies’ farm system where noteworthy international signings at the shortstop position have made a splash in their full-season debuts. Ezequiel Tovar started the tradition in 2021 with the Low-A Fresno Grizzlies before passing the torch to Adael Amador, who did the same in 2022.

Both Tovar and Amador rode their impressive campaigns into national prospect acclaim, and now it may be time for Dyan Jorge (No. 16 PuRP) to do the same.

Signed out of Cuba for $2.8 million in 2022, Jorge has posted an .853 OPS and 134 wRC+ in his first game action at the DSL level in 2022. The next step in his development is to move stateside and test his abilities against steeper competition. There is a chance the organization could elect to keep him at Salt River and save his debut for the ACL. But, given his previous performance and how the franchise has pushed their international signings in recent seasons, it seems likely Jorge will debut for the Fresno Grizzlies sooner rather than later.

If he does get assigned to the Grizzlies and is able post the impressive totals he seems capable of, the Rockies will have another highly-regarded position prospect getting national attention to boast about.

Can Ezequiel Tovar bring home just the second RoTY award in franchise history?

Speaking of Tovar, a convincing argument can be made that no player is more important to the franchise this season than the young shortstop. The front office cleared the roster in the offseason and all appearances suggest they intend to hand him the starting job out of spring training if he is healthy. The plan is a fit when you consider the low-expectations of the organization this season combined with Tovar’s proclivity to exceed every expectation to this point in his career.

Management has not been shy about selling the fanbase on the promise of the future, and Ezequiel Tovar is an important player in that plan. He will be put in a position to get a full rookie season under his belt, and his initial performance will be the first litmus test for the unspoken rebuild the organization has undergone in recent seasons.

If Tovar flounders, there will be little consequence and he will still be a prominent fixture of the future. But if he thrives, he could seriously compete for the National League Rookie of the Year Award, an honor that has been fairly elusive in the history of the Colorado Rockies franchise.

Despite numerous spectacular rookie seasons in team history, only Jason Jennings’ 2002 campaign stands as worthy-enough to win the vote. Some other cases, like Todd Helton in 1998 and Troy Tulowitzki and 2006, have a strong case as being more deserving than the actual winner while others — like Trevor Story in 2016 — either faced too steep of a ballot or was cut short because of injury.

Regardless, the history of the award for the top rookie in the NL has not been kind to the Colorado Rockies franchise, and no player has received a single vote for the award since 2017. But Ezequiel Tovar has a chance to change that if he can put together a healthy and productive season in 2023. Beyond the recognition, if Tovar is able to gain such notoriety this season it will go a long way in backing-up the platform of a promising future the organization has held in recent years.

Can a Rockies’ full-season affiliate take home a title?

While win-loss records are not always a clear indication of how strong an organization’s farm system truly is, the Rockies have made it clear they want their prospects to experience winning on their way up to the big leagues. This is something already being talked about with players from the roster of the 2021 Arizona Complex League championship team.

But the success of the short-season ACL squad is a standout in the recent history of Colorado’s minor league affiliates. The High-A Spokane Indians made it to the Northwest League championship series that same season but lost in three games to the Eugene Emeralds (SEA). The Low-A Fresno Grizzlies have reached back-to-back championship series but fallen short both times, losing to the San Jose Giants (SF) in 2021 and Lake Elsinore Storm (SD) in 2022.

It’s been a recent string of success for sure, but the fact remains that no full-season Colorado affiliate has won a season championship since 2014 when the then High-A Asheville Tourists captured the South Atlantic League Championship.

With the bulk of the core from recent long playoff runs in Spokane and Fresno still in the system and an influx of strong draft and international signing classes coming in, there is certainly potential for one of the three lower affiliates to take home a title in 2023.

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Former All-Star catcher and Hall of Fame broadcaster Tim McCarver dies at 81 | USA Today

Longtime player and broadcaster Tim McCarver passed away over the weekend at the age of 81. Few people have been as recognizable figures of a sport than McCarver, who played 21 seasons in the major leagues before embarking on a long broadcasting career in 1980. McCarver’s playing career spanned four decades while his time in the booth covered 20 All-Star Games and 23 World Series broadcasts. In 2012, McCarver was inducted to the Hall of Fame when he was selected for the annual Ford Frick Award.

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